Tei Shi mesmerized the audience at the Rumba Café Sunday night with her introspective lyrics and animated performance.
Her three-piece band delivered the synth-based beats from her latest album Crawl Space with tight rhythm and a danceable groove.
Tei Shi, born Valerie Teicher, captivated the room from the start when she asked the crowd to come up front before her first song. This is Teicher’s first headlining tour, but she possessed the poise, confidence, and talent of a performer more accustomed to playing in stadiums.
The synth player calmly played the melodic backbone of the beats between three keyboards, interlacing samples, basslines, and leads. The drummer played his kit with a sampler next to the hi-hat for triggering rumbling 808s, tight snares, claps, and snaps.
The guitarist provided grit or atmosphere to the beats with a variety of timbres stemming from his packed pedal-board. The range of her band’s sound was as impressive as hers.
When Tei Shi walked over to the looper and began mangling her vocal track to a controlled howl of feedback, the show was in full swing.
If that failed to impress, the synth player’s surprising saxophone chops made up for it.
As she seamlessly transitioned from silvery crooning to emphatic whaling, she traded her hypnotic hand motions for sharp full-body movements that conveyed the desperation, triumph, and confidence of her lyrics.
In addition to the incredible performances by the band, the staff of the venue created a fantastic environment for the performance, with timely lighting cues, and crystal-clear sound.
She performed the standouts “Justify” and “Como Si” back-to-back in one of the most about-face mood changes of the night.
Tei Shi flexed her vocal range on “Justify” as she went from a near whisper over cascading synth plucks, and a simple rhythm of kicks, claps, and compressed snares, to whaling high notes at the end of the very same beat.
She was crouched on stage with white light flashing through her controlled screams by the end of the song as if she was concentrating all her physical energy into her lungs for the tune’s finale.
When the lights went dark, she stood up to a room full of applause and calmly reprised her airy voice to sing “Como Si” in Spanish.
“Como Si” is a dreamy ballad over lush pads in the style of Beach House. This juxtaposition of style didn’t feel uncomfortable, but it showcased the various ways that she can deliver her message to her fans.
I expect to see Tei Shi’s name on marquees for larger venues on her next tour. If she performs as well as she did this Sunday, word of mouth will without a doubt grow her fan base.
You can listen to Tei Shi’s Crawl Space below.
You can also check out our interview with Tei Shi here.